Home Office legislative programme announced

Monday 31 May 2010 at 7:08 am | In News | Post Comment
The Queen's Speech
Three bills relate to Home Office business announced in the Queen’s Speech:

  • Identity Documents Bill
  • Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill
  • Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill

In addition, the speech announced that an annual limit will be introduced on the number of non-European Union economic immigrants entering the UK. The government has already announced plans to bring an end to the detention of children for immigration purposes.

Identity Documents Bill
If enacted, this bill will scrap identity cards, and require the destruction of all personal information gathered from existing cardholders and currently held in the National Identity Register.

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill
This bill will make the police service more accountable to the public. It will create a dedicated border police force and set out measures to tackle alcohol-related violence and disorder.
Its measures include:

  • directly electing individuals to increase police accountability to local people
  • amending health and safety laws to ensure that they don’t stand in the way of policing
  • improving and strengthening immigration controls
  • providing stronger powers to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime

Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill
This bill will ‘roll back the state’ and reduce the influence of government on citizens.
Among its proposals are:

  • increased protection for those on the DNA database
  • a restoration of rights to non-violent protest
  • enhanced regulation of CCTV use

The Role of Judges – 12 years, one case

Thursday 27 May 2010 at 7:13 am | In News | 1 Comment
Lord Saville
Lord Saville
The Saville report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry will be published on June 15. Established in 1998, Lord Seville’s re-examination of the events on Bloody Sunday is the longest and at £160m the most expensive state inquiry in British history. Lord Mark Saville of Newdigate (the brilliant Law Lord who has been absent from the Lords and Supreme Court for 12 years) has been assisted by judges William Hoyt, from Canada, and John Toohey from Australia. It opened with a 42-day speech by counsel to the inquiry, the longest on record.

The inquiry into the 1972 killings was launched by former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998. It lasted until 2004, hearing 900 witnesses and costing some 200 million pounds.   Members of the families of those who died or were injured on the day, and for the soldiers most directly involved, to see the report privately … some hours before the report is published.

Called ‘Bloody Sunday’ because on Sunday 30 January 1972, thirteen people  were killed when soldiers opened fire in the nationalist Bogside area of the Belfast. A 14th victim later died from wounds.

The troops said they shot at people armed with guns or nail bombs. An original 1972 investigation exonerated the paratroopers who shot marchers at a civil rights demonstration in Londonderry, the province’s second city.
Bloody Sunday was one of the most traumatic events in Northern Ireland’s 30-year “Troubles,” fuelling suspicion of the authorities among the Catholic minority and prompting dozens to join the IRA’s violent campaign against British rule.
This is the second report, the original inquiry into the incident, carried out by then Lord Chief Justice Lord Widgery, was a whitewash.

The Widgery report, which was compiled in the months after the shootings, exonerated the soldiers who fired the fatal shots and speculated that a number of the dead had been either firing at or nailbombing the Army.     The allegations have always been vehemently denied by the relatives and many other eyewitnesses, who insisted the dead were unarmed.

Wednesday 12 May 2010 at 12:26 pm | In News | Post Comment
Kenneth Clarke a very experienced politician
Kenneth Clarke, former Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, will be the justice secretary in the new Conservative-led coalition government.

Lord Justice Richards again questioned over sexual claims

Wednesday 12 May 2010 at 4:19 am | In News | Post Comment
Lord Justice Richards
The Times reports that Lord Justice Stephen Richards aged 59, one of the UK’s most senior judges was arrested for another sexual offence last autumn, but prosecutors ruled there was insufficient evidence to take the case to trial. Richards was also cleared of exposing himself on a train three years ago.

The Mail reported on Monday that the  judge was questioned over claims by a woman in her 30s that a man rubbed himself against her during a journey.

It is understood witnesses gave conflicting descriptions of the man responsible and accounts of what happened.

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Communications Office said: “In September 2009 Lord Justice Richards was arrested by the British Transport police. He immediately informed the Lord Chief Justice and agreed not to sit until the investigation was over. He was neither charged nor cautioned. Towards the end of October he was informed that no proceedings would be taken against him. Thereafter he resumed his duties. The judge has nothing further to say on the matter.”

Barristers to change relationship with solicitors

Wednesday 12 May 2010 at 3:27 am | In News | 1 Comment
Barristers to change relationship with solicitors
Barristers are seeking to change the rules that prevent them suing solicitors for unpaid fees.

Proposed contractual terms would set out a basic legal position of both parties, dealing with matters including the proper and prompt execution of work.

The proposals will have to be approved by the Legal Services Board. Barristers and solicitors will continue to be free to agree their own terms, the new contractual provisions being a default position..

At present barristers the only actions that barristers can take against defaulting solicitors are to make a complaint to the Solicitors Regulation Authority or put the solicitor on a ‘black list’ until the payment is made.

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